Chicago -- Over the summer, New Trier High School Media, Speech and Theatre Department instructor Iwona Awlasewicz and Film 2 student Kilmer Bennewitz led a film crew on a 90-mile trek to Lake Delavan, Wis. to produce a documentary short in partnership with children attending the Northwestern Settlement 's House In The Wood Camp.
The students' film will debut Oct. 29 at The Art Institute of Chicago during the Camp Night benefit hosted by the North Shore Board of the Northwestern Settlement.
House In The Wood Leader in Training Alisha said, "At camp I learn skills I can use at home, like how to solve problems in difficult situations, be amazing in my own special way, come out of my comfort zone to do things I've never done before and to take action. Most importantly, it gets me away from violence."
Leader in Training Philip added, "I'm an actor, book enthusiast and sports enthusiast from Roseland, and I go to school in a neighborhood called Englewood which isn't so great. I've seen a lot in 13 years. I've had friends die of violence. I've struggled with anxiety and depression, and my family has had financial instabilities. I've been forced to grow up faster than any kid should. But when I'm at camp, I can be a kid. I do things I can't do anywhere else, and I meet people I can't meet anywhere else. Camp gives you a chance to do things that are impossible in the city."
The New Trier High School Media, Speech & Theatre Department encourages students to use concepts learned in classes to grow as both citizens and artists in their communities.
"This opportunity gave Kilmer a chance to highlight the great work being done at House In The Wood Camp while further developing his own artistic voice and filmmaking skills," said Department Chair Nina Lynn.
Awlasewicz and Bennewitz noted that the relationship between the Film Production program and Northwestern Settlement offered an opportunity to put the storytelling techniques taught in class into practice in a rewarding way.
"We, the filmmakers, do have an impact, and we can make a difference. Personally, we are very proud of that," they said.
Founded by the Northwestern Settlement in 1910, House In The Wood inspires inner city children from economically disadvantaged neighborhoods to gain independence, develop leadership skills and form friendships in a safe outdoor environment -- while strengthening their comprehension of science, technology engineering, the arts and mathematics through an experiential STEAM curriculum based upon Next Generation Science Standards and the Illinois Common Core Curriculum. In fact, the program earned national recognition this year for its inventive approach to social-emotional development and learning, receiving the Eleanor P. Eells Award for Program Excellence from the American Camp Association.
"We believe zip codes shouldn't define a child's future," explains New Trier parent and the North Shore Board's Camp Night co-Benefit Chair Ann Charlton Adams. "This special partnership between New Trier students and House In The Wood leaders in training spotlights how this special place can transform young lives by giving boys and girls a safe place to learn, grow and enjoy the simple pleasures of summer."
The documentary project builds upon a 30-year partnership between New Trier High School faculty, students, parents and the North Shore Board of the Northwestern Settlement. New Trier also supports the Northwestern Settlement's annual Adopt-a-Family Program, which grants holiday wishes to 600 inner-city families each year.
The North Shore Board of the Northwestern Settlement was founded in 1936 to support the House In The Wood program, and members reside in Evanston, Glencoe, Lake Forest, Glencoe, Northbrook, Northfield, Wilmette and Winnetka. Thanks to the support of North Shore families, schools and businesses, over 700 at-risk children participate in House in the Wood residential summer camp and outdoor education retreats during the school year. For more information go to https://northwesternsettlement.org and to learn about Camp Night benefiting House In The Wood, go to http://northshoreboard.org